It seems as though everyone is susceptible to anxiety – even the highest paid supermodel in the world.
In her new memoir, Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life, Gisele Bündchen reveals her history with anxiety and panic disorder, saying she suffered from panic attacks so severe that she contemplated taking her own life.
The 38-year-old Brazilian beauty gave an exclusive interview to People, dispelling the myth that her life is picture perfect.
“Things can be looking perfect on the outside, but you have no idea what’s really going on,” she told the magazine. “I felt like maybe it was time to share some of my vulnerabilities, and it made me realize, everything I’ve lived through, I would never change, because I think I am who I am because of those experiences.”
Bündchen says that for most of her life she believed she was “not very special.” Despite being scouted by an agent at the age of 14, the she was constantly told she would never make it in the modelling world.
“They told me, ‘Your nose is too big and your eyes are too small and you’re never going to be on the cover of a magazine,'” Bündchen said.
Cut to 2000 when she was given a record $25 million contract with Victoria’s Secret and was dubbed “the boobs from Brazil.”
While her career was skyrocketing, her mental health was declining. In 2003, she suffered her first panic attack during a flight on a small plane. She became claustrophobic, especially in tunnels and elevators.
“I had a wonderful position in my career,” she said. “I was very close to my family, and I always considered myself a positive person, so I was really beating myself up. Like, ‘Why should I be feeling this?’ I felt like I wasn’t allowed to feel bad. But I felt powerless. Your world becomes smaller and smaller, and you can’t breathe, which is the worst feeling I’ve ever had.”
Doctors prescribed Xanax to help with her panic attacks, but she says she didn’t want to rely on the medication.
“The thought of being dependent on something felt, in my mind, even worse,” she said. “‘What If I lost that [pill]? Then what? Am I going to die?’ The only thing I knew was, I needed help.”
Bündchen says she decided to completely changed her lifestyle, dropping all of her unhealthy habits, cutting sugar from her diet and taking up yoga and meditation.
“I had been smoking cigarettes, drinking a bottle of wine and three mocha Frappuccino every day, and I gave up everything in one day. I thought, if this stuff is in any way the cause of this pain in my life, it’s gotta go.”
The star also decided to call-it-quits with her longterm boyfriend, Leonardo DiCaprio, in 2005. Now, Bündchen is happily married to NFL-star Tom Brady, with whom she shares two children; eight-year-old Benjamin and five-year-old Vivian Lake.
Still, the model says she has nothing but love for her former partner.
“Everyone who crosses our path is a teacher, they come into our lives to show us something about ourselves,” she said. “And I think that’s what he was. What is good versus bad? I honour him for what he was.”